According to an article on CNBC, it could become easier for people with student debt to file for bankruptcy.
Lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make it easier for student loan borrowers to cancel their debt in bankruptcy. This measure, supported by 14 Democrats, one Republican, and one independent, is dubbed the Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act of 2019.
In addition to its congressional support, a number of advocacy groups have praised the bill. Some of these groups include Americans for Financial Reform, the National Consumer Law Center, and the Center of Responsible Lending.
Experts say that a large portion of student loan debt is unlikely to ever be repaid, with the nation’s balance expected to swell to $2 trillion by 2022. This balance far surpasses credit card or auto debt. Student borrowers owe an average of $33,310.
Current laws are in place to allow people with federal or private loans to walk away from their debt in bankruptcy only if they can prove their loans pose an “undue hardship,” but congress never spelled out what that term means. Lawyers and advocates say the uncertainty leads to unfairness in court.
According to the article, “Stanley Tate, a student loan lawyer in Missouri, said the ambiguous definition makes it almost impossible to advise student loan borrowers on whether it would be worthwhile for them to file for bankruptcy. “What one judge feels is an undue hardship may be a simple hardship to a judge across the country, or in the same circuit, or even in the same building,” he said.”
This Act draws speculation and concern that droves of student borrowers will seek to ditch their debt. Others say that lenders may be more willing to provide accommodations for struggling borrowers if bankruptcy charge was available.